Arsenal boss Wenger hails '80% domination' – in loss to United

The Frenchman rues his side’s missed chances and defensive naivety after they fell to a 2-1 Premier League defeat by Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday

By Greg Stobart at Emirates Stadium

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claimed that his side “dominated 80 per cent” of their 2-1 home defeat by Manchester United that marked the north London club’s worst start to a season since 1982.

An own goal from Kieran Gibbs and a dinked finish from Wayne Rooney put United two goals ahead before Olivier Giroud grabbed a goal back in a game that ended with vocal boos from the home crowd.

Arsenal are already 15 points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea and sit eighth in the Premier League table, having made their worst start to a league campaign in 32 years, but Wenger was left grasping for positives and rued several missed chances in the first-half.

“It’s a game that we dominated for 80% of the time,” he told reporters. “We have not had many games against Man United like today but we were not efficient enough in the final third and made mistakes at the back.

“Their keeper [David de Gea] is man of the match and that’s the story of the game. We had plenty of opportunities to finish the game off.

“When we were 1-0 down we had a lot of possession in the final third. We missed a lot of opportunities but you have to be efficient in a top-level game.

“We are very disappointed. There is a discordance between our possession and chances and our results.”

Wenger, who was unsure of the severity of the ankle injury that forced off Jack Wilshere, was particularly frustrated with the sequence that led to Rooney racing through on goal to clip home United’s second.

He added: “Defensively we were a bit naive. We were not cautious enough.

“I don’t know why we had two against one at the back in our own half. You will get punished by these players.”

Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United: Rooney seals smash-and-grab win for Red Devils

The England international doubled his side’s advantage after a Kieran Gibbs goal had broken the deadlock – and the visitors held on despite Olivier Giroud’s late strike

Manchester United weathered a storm to secure a 2-1 victory that leaves Arsenal 15 points adrift of Premier League leaders Chelsea.

The hosts dominated for most of the opening hour at Emirates Stadium but found United goalkeeper David de Gea in excellent form.

The same could not be said for De Gea’s Arsenal counterpart, Wojciech Szczesny, whose failure to deal with a ball into the box led directly to Kieran Gibbs’ 56th-minute own goal on the end of Antonio Valencia’s drilled cross, before the Pole was then forced off injured.

United then made light of high-profile defensive absentees by closing out their first competitive away win of the Louis van Gaal era, a triumph sealed by Wayne Rooney on the counter-attack five minutes from time.

It could have been three late on when Angel di Maria missed with a one-on-one breakaway opportunity, before Olivier Giroud gave Arsenal something to cheer with a superb finish on his return to the side after a fractured tibia.

There were, though, injuries to Jack Wilshere and Szczesny as Arsenal’s miserable record against United was extended to only one win in 15 attempts – and the gap to Premier League leaders Chelsea was extended even further.

Danny Welbeck shook off a hamstring problem to lead the Arsenal attack against his former club, while Arsene Wenger preferred Mikel Arteta to Mathieu Flamini in midfield.

Van Gaal’s latest response to United’s defensive injury crisis was to name Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair in a re-shaped back three.

McNair produced an important early block to deny Welbeck and the England international headed over in the ninth minute as Arsenal began in the ascendancy.

Wilshere and Welbeck were then able to test United goalkeeper De Gea as his new-look defence allowed too much room on the edge of the penalty area.

In the 15th minute, De Gea atoned for a terrible clearance by keeping out Wilshere’s resulting one-on-one opportunity when the midfielder should have left him with no chance.

Left wing-back Luke Shaw’s departure with an ankle problem further increased United’s defensive uncertainty and the alert De Gea had to race from his goalmouth to deny Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Wilshere was fortunate to remain on the field after thrusting his head towards Marouane Fellaini in a 29th-minute clash – a reflection on his frustration at Arsenal losing their early control of the match.

Di Maria was central to United’s improvement, flashing a speculative strike narrowly wide and then setting up Rooney, only for Arsenal full-back Calum Chambers to make a vital 38th-minute block.

An excellent pass with the outside of his foot from Oxlade-Chamberlain sent Welbeck racing into the United box from the left-hand side early in the second half, but De Gea was equal to the task once more.

A misunderstanding between McNair and Fellaini had Wilshere racing through on the United goal again soon afterwards, but a challenge involving both United players resulted in ankle damage and an early end to the Arsenal man’s afternoon.

To compound Wenger’s worries, his team fell behind in the 56th minute.

Poland international Szczesny failed to deal with a cross from Shaw’s replacement, Ashley Young. In doing so he knocked Gibbs to the floor and the defender put the ball through his own net when Valencia drove a cross back into the area.

Szczesny injured himself in the process to bring about an unplanned Premier League debut for substitute goalkeeper Damian Martinez.

In-form forward Alexis Sanchez placed a header into De Gea’s hands as Arsenal sought a response and Santi Cazorla, on for Wilshere, had a rasping effort saved.

Arsenal committed increasing numbers forward late on, meaning Rooney was able to race onto Di Maria’s pass before lifting the ball beyond Martinez, and his team up to fourth in the table.

Di Maria then passed up a glorious chance to add a third on the break and Giroud, back in the side after his fractured leg, smashed a powerful shot into the top corner to make United sweat midway through an elongated nine minutes of stoppage time, but there was to be no comeback.

Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United: Rooney seals smash-and-grab win for Van Gaal

Louis van Gaal reverted to the 3-5-2 formation he abandoned back in September, and despite seeing his side come under intense pressure early on they grew into the match and won …

Manchester United secured a smash-and-grab 2-1 win at Arsenal despite fielding a makeshift defence and after surviving intense pressure in the opening stages.

But they were made to sweat for the final three of eight added minutes, when the returning Olivier Giroud rifled into the top corner just moments after Angel Di Maria missed a golden opportunity to make it 3-0.

Louis van Gaal had reverted to the 3-5-2 formation he abandoned following the close of the transfer window, with Chris Smalling, Paddy McNair and Tyler Blackett making up his back-line.

The Gunners dominated the opening stages, flowing forward to put the visitors under pressure from the first whistle, but somehow could not find a goal.

Danny Welbeck had two chances to open the scoring, while Jack Wilshere hit an effort straight at David De Gea when clean through. The Spanish goalkeeper missed his country’s last two fixtures with a dislocated finger, but was back between the posts for his club and were it not for him Arsenal could have been out of sight early on.

Wilshere could have also seen red for a clash with Maraoune Fellaini, with the England man thrusting towards the Belgian with his head.

The Red Devils did grow into the match as the first half wore on, too, with Angel Di Maria bending a shot wide and Calum Chambers blocking a Wayne Rooney effort, while Smalling slashed at a volley from close range.

Wilshere did go off after half-time, but as a result of injury after being caught late by McNair. Moments later United took the lead after Wojciech Szczesny collided with Kieran Gibbs when coming for a cross, before Gibbs got to his feet to deflect in Antonio Valencia’s centre.

The Red Devils threatened time and again to hit the hosts on the counter as they poured forward for the equaliser, but were often let down byy their final ball, or were caught out by the linesman’s flag.

They did get the all important second, however, when Di Maria finally got one right to play in Wayne Rooney, who burst through and dinked over Martinez.

Di Maria then had the chance to rub salt into the wounds in the 94th minute, but after racing from his own half he chipped over Martinez again but saw the effort bounce well wide.

United were almost made to pay when substitute Giroud blasted in from th eedge of the box on his return from injury.

More to follow…

Van Gaal: Manchester United will not buy in January

The Dutchman believes it will be hard to find an available player capable of improving his squad in the winter window and is also refusing to be drawn on Kevin Strootman

Louis van Gaal has backed Ed Woodward’s insistence that Manchester United are unlikely to make significant signings in January.

United, beset by injuries since the start of the season, have won just four of their first 11 Premier League games under the Dutchman, while the summer departures of Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra have also left the squad short of experience and quality in defence.

But earlier this week Woodward told investors during a conference call to discuss United’s latest financial results that the club will not go looking for “short-term fixes” in January, and Van Gaal agrees with his executive vice chairman.

“I don’t think that he has said he should not buy. I think he has said that in January it’s very difficult to buy players who are good enough for the quality of Manchester United and because of that we are not buying and I agree with that,” the Dutchman told reporters.

“When you buy it has to be a player better than you have in your squad and it shall be very difficult to find such a player in January. So that is what he wanted to say and I believe we are speaking the same language.”

One man repeatedly linked with a move to Old Trafford in the New Year is Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman, but Van Gaal refused to be drawn on whether United will try to tempt the Serie A title contenders into a sale.

“I cannot discuss with the media about players that we want to buy,” he added. ”I cannot answer this question and not only about Strootman but all the players in this world.” 

Rooney: Welbeck was right to leave, but seeing him play for Arsenal is weird

The Manchester United skipper believes his old strike partner’s transfer has paid dividends already, though says the Gunners striker can occasionally work “a bit too hard”

Danny Welbeck made the right decision in leaving Manchester United to join Arsenal this summer, according to former team-mate Wayne Rooney.

The 23-year-old striker left Old Trafford after 15 years to move to the Emirates Stadium in a €20 million deal on transfer deadline day and will take on his old team for the first time on Saturday afternoon.

Welbeck has made a strong start to his career in north London, scoring five times in 12 appearances, and Rooney believes the decision to leave United is already paying off – even though he is still not used to seeing his old strike partner in an Arsenal shirt.

“For Danny, and his own career, it was probably the best move for him,” the United skipper told MUTV.

“He’s done great and scored a few goals. Danny gives you what he always gives you – a good shift.

“Of course [it will be strange playing against Welbeck], Danny has been here all of his life. He is a Manchester lad so it is weird seeing him there.

“At times, as I said to him, he works a bit too hard but he’s scoring goals and he’s doing well.”

Rooney is expecting a tough test at the Emirates but is very familiar with Arsenal’s side due to the growing presence of England internationals amongst the club’s ranks.

“Arsenal have got a good squad, an exciting squad with a lot of young players and a lot of English players which is great for England,” continued Rooney.

“We know they play with a lot of energy and we’ll have to be at our best to beat them. It’s always a tight game and whoever gets the first goal normally wins or gets a result.”